Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dreyfus Revisited?

Syndicated Charles Krauthammer wrote recently in the Washington Post that like it or not the US would have to face Iran. Krauthammer’s analysis was upsetting. Should the US launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran, oil might shoot up to $150 a barrel, the Iranians might block the Straits of Hormuz requiring US Naval action, Iran might launch weapons of mass destruction at Israel and Europe, and send terrorists to attack US targets.

If the US doesn’t attack Iran and take out their nuclear capability they’ll have Iran as the bully in the region always threatening to use the weapons. Krauthammer predicts that Iran will indeed use the weapons, since the Iranian leaders think death leads to a heavenly rest.

It seem that Krauthammer sees the western world like the guy thinking about going to the dentist for root canal work. The patient can put it off, but the decay will just dig deeper into the jaw, requiring even more radical treatments. (Did you know that the movie icon Clark Gable nearly died of gum disease? Had to have teeth pulled to stop the infection. Little thing like the teeth and gums can kill you. He also reportedly had bad breath from his false teeth.)

In Israel defense analysts are worried about Iran. After the Hezbollah attacks it is clear that Israel has little defense against rockets. MK Benjamin ‘Bibi” Netanyahu said today that he wasn’t worried about the Palestinians, but was worried about the threat from Iran.

Bibi made these statements on the same day that an odd ceremony took place on Mt. Herzl. The two children of Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, were buried near their father nearly 70 years after their death. No one had an answer why it took so long. They’d been in anonymous graves in Bordeaux, France until yesterday, when they were disinterred, flown to Israel, and reburied.

Herzl, who died in 1904 at the age of 44, had three children. One daughter, Trude, died in the Holocaust, the other daughter Pauline, who suffered from depression, died of a drug overdose in Paris in the 1930’s. Her brother Hans, who had converted to Christianity, committed suicide two days after attending Pauline’s funeral. Herzl’s body was brought to Israel in 1949, and buried in the national cemetery named after him. Herzl’s seminal work, “The Jewish State,” was the blueprint for modern Israel. But did he envision the world as it appears today.

Iranian Prime Minister Achmanejahad spoke at the UN today, to the strenuous objections of Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman. Achmanejahad reportedly said in an interview he couldn’t understand why the world was so focused on the six million Jews who died during World War II when sixty million people died in that war. Achmanejahad has often denied that the Holocaust took place.

In New York Achmanejahad criticized the UN Security Council wondering why one country can veto what the rest of the council wants. Achmanejahad also said that the occupation of Palestine is a “great tragedy.” According to the Reuters News Agency, Achmanejahad’s boss, the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran needs a strong army to deter aggressors.

In Gaza, the nascent unity government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority may never come to fruition. The US reportedly pressured PA President Mohamed Abbas not to form a government with Hamas, which the US considers a terrorist organization. US Sec of State Rice reportedly told PA leader Abbas that the unity government does not meet with the requirements of the Quartet of countries and their “Roadmap for Peace. The Quartet agree that both Hamas and the PA must recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Hamas, apparently under pressure from supporters in Gaza, Damascus and Iran, has retracted its original commitment to a peace initiative with Israel. As if to emphasize their rejection of peace, Hamas has continued to sent Qassam rockets into Israel. Two landed on Wednesday. One Qassam struck in the southern Israeli town of Sderot lightly injuring one resident. Hamas has also not admitted to any progress on the release of the Israeli soldier Gilat Shalit. Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters that the less about the rumored prisoner exchange the better. “In this case, silence is golden,” Peretz said.

No progress has been reported on the exchange of the two Israeli soldiers, Regev and Wasserman, held in Lebanon by Hezbollah. Three Hezbollah fighters who were captured during the war were brought before a military tribunal in Israel yesterday. One of the prisoners said that the Israeli soldiers wouldn’t be released until the long-held Hezbollah terrorist, Samir Kutar, was released as part of the exchange. Other reports say that negotiations are still going on to determine exactly which prisoners held by Israel will be released in the exchange.

The investigation into the Israeli government’s handling of the War in Lebanon II continues. National Religious Party Knesset Member Zvi Hendel called for Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to resign and turn in his uniform. In response Halutz said he had no intention of resigning his commission. Halutz told reporters today that he never used the blood of fallen soldiers to promote a personal agenda. He said he was convinced he could continue to lead the army, and wouldn’t retain an attorney for the war probe.

Halutz said today that the Israeli Army wouldn’t withdraw from Lebanon by the Rosh Hashana holdiday. Israeli troops are still in Lebanon awaiting for the full deployment of the UN troops. France and Italy have sent more troops. Germany has promised a naval presence off the coast of Lebanon.

As if Israel didn’t have enough trouble, the chief of police Moshe Karadi is being investigated for cooperating with organized crime. According to one report Karadi was appointed to his position as a payoff to the Parinyans, a leading crime family. The family reportedly was involved heavily with Ariel Sharon and the Likud and functioned as vote contractors for the Likud central committee elections. Reportedly Omri Sharon, the son of the former Prime Minster, was the go-between in these deals.

During Sharon’s tenure organized crime figures were very active in the Likud central committee. 27-year old Gila Gamliel was placed high enough on the Likud Knesset list to be elected. According to a Haaretz shortly after she was elected, “She was supposedly chosen thanks to the feverish efforts of her uncle, Reuven Gavrieli, who owned a chain of gambling parlors in Turkey and of her father, Ezra "Shoni" Gavrieli, the owner of the Jaffa Court banquet hall and garden. Last year, when an explosive device was placed in her father's Mercedes, crime beat reporters wrote that in the past the police had questioned him about illegal betting on sports. Immediately after Inbal's election, there was talk that her family had her run for Knesset to promote legalized casinos in Israel.”

The indications are that the Sharon family were deeply involved with organized crime, not necessarily for their own aggrandizement but more to secure their position of power, using the ‘mob’ and their influence in the Likud central committee to insure Sharon got what he wanted.

The Sharon legacy is still one of a strong and cunning military leader who defeated Israel’s arch-enemy Yassir Arafat. But outside the battlefield Ariel Sharon apparently believed that his family resembled the legendary American Kennedy family and that rules that applied to normal people didn’t apply to them. He was wrong. Sharon’s son Omri has already been convicted of illegal campaign contributions and has been sentenced to nine-months in jail.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, appointed by Sharon as his handpicked successor, was also mentioned in an investigation against another of Sharon’s son’s, Gilad, in the Greek Island scandal. Olmert, then Tourism Minister, reportedly was accused of misuse of his office in helping Likud activist David Appel put a land deal together in Greece. No charges were ever brought against Olmert, or Gilad Sharon, although the police conducted a lengthy investigation. It’s possible the same result will occur with President Katzav, although analysts think that this outcome is unlikely.

At a meeting of the Kadima party Wednesday night, groups of reserve soldiers heckled PM Olmert calling for him to resign. A group of parents of fallen soldiers also protested during Olmert’s speech. While he said the country was united, the protesters continued to heckle him. An Olmert supporter went to the protesters and asked, “What are your alternatives? Bibi (Netanyahu)?”

Looking back at these and other problems facing Israel one wonders what Theodore Herzl would have thought of the way his dream turned out, and the situation of the Jewish people in the world?

Herzl was inspired to write his work after following the famous Dreyfus trial in 1895 in France, when Alfred Dreyfus a Jewish army officer was accused of treason, and convicted. Severe anti-Jewish rioting broke out across France. But nine years later a court found he’d been framed, and reversed the decision. It became clear Dreyfus was actually the victim of flagrant anti-Semitism. The secular Herzl, then a journalist covering the trial, was so moved by the trial that he became a missionary for a Jewish homeland where such injustice against Jews would never happen again.

According to Charles Krauthammer, when Iran responds to any American move, Israel will be the one who receives the brunt of Iran’s anger. Perhaps today all of Israel is the new Dreyfus, and Iran the anti-Semitic government bent of persecuting the Jews simply because they’re Jews?